From Calista Kibak...
We traveled to Bethesda by the Sea Episcopal Church, slowing down to see the oceanfront littered with yachts. There were countless palm trees, some that were supported by wooden planks. We were informed that Trump and Melania were married in this church, at which everyone was visibly less excited. The church itself was beautiful, and had a delicate layout complete with a courtyard, koi pond, a separate outside area, and a ceremonial area. The stained glass in the sanctuary was mostly blue, but included every color imaginable. We sang a few songs in the sanctuary before Nick gave a short sermon about unity, the tour theme, relating the culture uniting marines to the culture that connects all Christians. After that, we walked around to appreciate the beauty and many of us saw tiny lizards (which I personally thought was the most exciting part).
After visiting Bethesda by the Sea, we drove a short distance to City Place - an outdoor mall area where youth flocked to H&M and we all had good choices for buying lunch.
We drove south to Fort Lauderdale and arrived about an hour later at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. The building is very striking inside and out. Our host John Wilson met us and shared how he knew Polly’s parents early in his career and remembered her as a little girl. It is this connection that brought us to Coral Ridge, but many others had childhood memories of watching telecasts from Coral Ridge with pastor/evangelist D James Kennedy. Steve Kalnoske had playing the organ at Coral Ridge on his lifetime bucket list, so it was a special visit all the way around.
During our dress rehearsal time, we passed out folders and then decided to sing our first song in the narthex of the sanctuary at the recommendation of their music staff. We were all a little tired from the bus ride, but the effect of singing in this beautiful resonance chamber was instant energy and even electricity for the group. Faces lit up with joy.
For dinner we had Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and the stack of containers with pickles for the sandwiches was huge. After dinner we took turns changing (girls then guys) in the fellowship hall and then gathered for a small chat about knowing and claiming that we are children of God and living into that knowledge by acknowledging that others are God’s children and must be treated as such. We each were asked to think about someone who gives us the most frustration and remember that person is God’s child, too. The song Child of God has gotten to be a favorite since Carol Worrell introduced us to it about 10 days before we left for tour. It gets stronger every night, and the audience sings with us, so it’s especially moving!
Our concert was in a large space with a smaller audience, but they were most receptive and encouraging. We had a wonderful AV person named Kevin who was so helpful to us and later said how much he enjoyed the concert. We sang Come, Unity from the narthex and then at offering the small men’s group sang How Great Thou Art there also. Each place we sing in is so different, but it is a joy to see and hear everyone adapt to the space. Charlie Bratburd played percussion for God Has Chosen Me, and it was especially effective in that space. The solo ensemble in the Chichester Psalms is sounding really good. People commented about the great variety of music we shared.
Mary Nieter from Damascus UMC traveled to see us and brought a good friend with her. A few folks from a Baptist conference being held nearby came also. We enjoyed an overnight in host homes greatly. The gardens, landscaping, and vegetation are so different from Maryland, and it was neat to see people’s homes, which have no basements. The people were very hospitable and friendly and made us feel most welcome in their homes. Our group often gets better sleep in host homes, so that was a good thing at this point in the tour.
Click Here for a video clip from Sea Episcopal